Just a Wee Disparity in Incarceration Rates. Nothing to See Here. Move Along

The War on Some Drugs creates no end of problems, including clogging the justice system and eroding the Fourth Amendment. Now comes a study that shows we can add unequal justice to the ledger. (As if we didn’t know.) The Justice Policy Institute has documented ridiculous disparities in how Texas counties incarcerate drug offenders based on the color of their skin. Dallas County, which incarcerates nine blacks for every white drug offender, isn’t even the worst. Travis County’s ratio was 31 to one. (Hat tip Grits.)


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12 responses to “Just a Wee Disparity in Incarceration Rates. Nothing to See Here. Move Along”

  1. peterk says:

    wait a minute! I thought Travis County was the home to liberal Austin. shouldn’t the ratio then be 31 whites to 1 black

  2. Arec Barrwin says:

    Nationally, blacks are imprisoned on average 9.1 times as often as whites.

    If this high rate of black imprisonment was caused by anti-black conservatism, then the ratio of blacks to whites imprisoned should be highest in Republican strongholds like the Old South. But instead, it is lowest there of any major region.

    Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina are only about six times more likely to imprison blacks than whites–just two-thirds of the national average.

    In contrast, by far the greatest racial disparity was found in the District of Columbia; blacks in Washington D.C. are 56 times more likely than whites to wind up in the slammer.

    The next biggest gap was 31 to 1 in Minnesota, which has normally been quite a bit more liberal than the typical heartland state.

  3. TheKid says:

    Another accomplishment for Ronnie Earle…

  4. Bethany says:

    I did a college paper on the disparity – it’s been just a couple of years ago (ok, a few. Shut up.)

    There are a lot of factors that go into that figure. Sure, it would be easy to point and say it’s racism, but economic and educational factors are also at play.

    A black student, according to US Department of Justice statistics, are nearly twice as likely to drop out as a white student, at nearly 12 percent, and white students at about 6.8. According to census statistics, a drop out earns less than $28,000 a year – less than half what a person with a masters would make.

    This means that, if you do the math, the probability of a black person accused of a crime having the money to pay for a decent defense – let alone an OJ defense – drops exponentially.

    There’s also the sad economic fact that drug use is at a higher frequency among the very poor – again, higher drop out rate + less money = probably poor.

  5. Doug says:

    And how many of those incarcerated are repeat offenders, and how many that are given parole are first time offenders.

    You can spin numbers any which way you want.

    You could also say that Blacks use drugs at a rate of nine times higher than whites.

    Drugs are becoming like immigration. Just because we have a problem we are unwilling or unable to solve, let’s legalize them.

  6. muffin man fan says:

    You’re right, Doug. I wish we’d had more brave, intelligent people like you to stand up to those cowards who repealed Prohibition. Just because arbitrarily banning a commodity created a lucrative black market doesn’t mean the ban was a bad idea.

  7. Sam M. says:

    Flame war in three…two…one…

  8. Daniel says:

    You could also say that Blacks use drugs at a rate of nine times higher than whites.

    You could also say that the moon is made of green cheese. You could also say white people are the most evolved race. You could also say that Doug is a trenchant observer of his times.

  9. Daniel says:

    P.S. Who wants to legalize’em? Coke is cheaper and more plentiful the way things are.

  10. j.d.w... says:

    Where’s my copy of Frekanomics when i need it?

  11. j.d.w... says:

    Freakonomics. I’m a bad speller.

  12. Prettyphatpinky says:

    look at the mandatory minimums for crack vs. cocaine.